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The prospect of an avian flu epidemic in the near future makes most disaster films pale in comparison. As a newly mutated form of the H5N1 virus spreads rapidly from human to human, public transportation comes to a sudden stop, public events are canceled, and public schools-and many workplaces-shut down.

The ubiquitous cell phone: Almost all students have one. With at least nine out of 10 college students using a cell phone, and few using landlines, is it any wonder that colleges and universities are developing new ways to use this technology to communicate with students?

As vice president for Information Technology and CIO of Ball State University (Ind.), H. O'Neal Smitherman has a knack for seeing the big picture before anyone else does. Smitherman keeps a close eye on smart classroom and distance learning technology.

This is the era of the brand. Study after study indicate that institutions with a strong, valued brand enjoy opportunities that other less-branded institutions do not. For example, we can show that well-branded institutions attract:

More and better students.

More full- and fuller-pay students (brand equity).

When Harrisburg University of Science and Technology (PA.) opened its doors in 2005, its leaders made sure buildings and classrooms were ready, and that the school's wireless network was robust. One item left off the list was phone landlines.

RECENTLY I MET A FAMILY whose daughter was looking at Rhodes College. The family income was slightly above $20,000. Federal and state funding didn't provide the assistance necessary for the daughter to enroll. Even after adding a substantial commitment from the college to the financial aid package, there was a large financial gap.

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